The Gonzaga Bulldogs will face off against the Utah Utes on Saturday, a team they don't have too much familiarity with.
As such, it was time to tap the network. Shane Roberts with Block U was kind of enough to take some time out of the day to answer a few questions about Utah. Unfortunately, the nature of March Madness gives all of us bloggers about zero time in the day, but we at least got a bit of real information to work with.
Utah has looked great all season, but they haven't been able to punch through Oregon this year. What happened in those three losses and is there anything Gonzaga can do to emulate?
Oregon is a bad matchup for Utah has been for a long time. Utah's only beaten them once since joining the league. Oregon has a lot of long, athletic guys on their wings, and are really interchangeable. They don't necessarily have defined possessions. Gonzaga, a team more like Utah, is almost the polar opposite. Oregon is very much up in your face, and high in forcing turnovers, the 'Zags aren't like that at all. What Gonzaga is going to want to do is limit Jakob Poeltl's touches, because when he's not scoring, he's a great passer. When the offense doesn't run through him, the team just bogs down.
We know about Jakob Poeltl, but what about the rest of the team? Who are a couple of players Zag fans need to get accustomed with?
It's a multi-pronged attack outside of Jakob. You have Brandon Taylor, who is a shooter, but also a solid penetrator. When he gets rolling, Utah is very tough to beat. There's Jordan Loveridge, who is one of the most consistent three point shooters for Utah, and he helps keep defenses honest. Then there's Lorenzo Bonam, who will attack the paint over and over again. He's one of the best at creating his own shot.
How will Utah attempt to contain both Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer?
I expect Utah to throw a lot of different defenses out to keep Gonzaga off balance. You'll see some zone, with Jakob achoring the middle. Then you'll see some pressure man-to-man, with a lot of switching. When that's employed, you'll see Poeltl matched up with Sabonis, and will help cancel him out. This will be a slow, half court played game. It may not the prettiest at times, but it will no doubt be a slugfest.